Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I'm at War, though you wouldn't know it

There's nothing about either my appearance or my daily routine that might give you the sense that I am fiercely engaged in a great battle for something of supreme importance. In fact, my life right now is filled many solid, lasting joys. Hannah is a delight and I can't wait to see what she becomes in the months ahead. I can't get enough of Christopher. And I loved to be loved by Sarah. And my wife makes me very happy! Being in a ministry is of course sometimes a burden in many ways, but it too also makes me happy. I had dinner last night with a man who really wants to grow spiritually. That whole conversation made me happy. Though I sometimes am prone to pessimistic thoughts and to see everything through a glass darkly, the truth is, I am a very happy guy with a very happy life. I don't seem to be the kind of guy hunkered down in an intense battle. But I am. And my enemy is strong, subtle, sharp, cunning, effective and elusive.

My enemy is the flesh. My flesh.

That body of sin that resides in me. It corrupts my joys. It twists my desires. It reprograms my thoughts. The flesh takes things in my life that are of minor importance and make them seem as if they are critical. And the flesh takes truly important things and makes them feel distant, remote, inaccessible, uncertain, and small. The Flesh knows my weak spots. It knows which buttons to push. And I'm at war with my flesh. The point of the war is to determine who or what will rule and reign in my life. Fundamentally, what kind of person am I. Where do my deepest loyalties truly lie? Who am I and what are the things that I think, feel, do and say. What rules my heart? What fruits of my life will sprout from what kind of roots in my soul? Oh, there's a war going on inside of me. And even tonight as Mindy and I watched Will Smith's "Pursuit of Happyness" with a little tear in each of our eyes, that same war was being played out in the way that I was going to interpret this movie and appropriate it to my life. So perhaps for me the better part of wisdom will be to push aside all sermon/worship preparation for Good Friday and Easter Sunday later this week, and instead devote the rest of my week to prayer, Scripture and John Owen. But I won't do that. I might just be indulging the flesh right at that point, rather than squaring myself fully towards the duty that must be done to have something edifying to say to God's people this holy weekend. So I'm going to turn out the lights now and pray that the Lord would awaken me at an early enough hour so that I can begin a day given over to His glory through sermon preparation. Tomorrow is going to be another day in the war. It's a good thing that I have a Captain and King who has every resource at my disposal to beat back the flesh tomorrow and enable me to walk with the Spirit.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I met with some Jehovah's Witnesses last week. I listened to and read everything I could in the two days I had to prepare. There was a weight on my shoulders which became heavier as I learned how much I still had to learn. I dreaded the meeting and though things went as well as one could expect an odd depression came over me. Thinking about it more deeply I wondered if this is what men who bear the responsibility of preaching God's word week in and week out feel. I am not sure if that is true but my respect for those that preach grew greatly during this time.

John McCracken said...

Yes, I think our flesh is so elusive that sometimes after a good ministry moment, we go inward and naval gaze and become self-absorbed rather than keep looking to Christ in faith. The flesh is tricky! And I've fallen into that trap many times and still do from time to time. It is also helpful to me to remind myself, 1. it's not about me, 2. it's not my ministry, it's the Lord's, 3. trust in the Lord with all your heart!